at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Mor lam (Laos) หมอลำ

Mor Lam

Harem Belle from ThailandHarem Belle from ThailandHarem Belle from ThailandHarem Belle from Thailand

Molam Lao is a group of khen musicians and lam singers originally from laos. They settled in France in 1976, and have given concerts and taken part in many international festivals throughout Europe. In 2000 Molam Lao collaborated with Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart on an album called Molam Dub, mixing traditional Lam with dub music. The khen is the quintessential laotian bamboo mouth organ. Lam, a.k.a. molam is popular style of singing popular in Laos and in Isan, the northern region of Thailand where the style is know as morlam, mor lam or morlam sing. –

[box style=’info’] More information about the Mor Lam music genre [/box]

Mor lam (Thai/Isan: หมอลำ [mɔ̌ː lam]) is a traditional Lao form of song in Laos and Isan. Mor lam means expert song, or expert singer, referring to the music or artist respectively. Other romanisations used include mor lum, maw lam, maw lum, moh lam and mhor lum. In Laos, the music is known simply as lam (ລຳ); mor lam (ໝໍລຳ) refers to the singer.

The characteristic feature of lam singing is the use of a flexible melody which is tailored to the tones of the words in the text. Traditionally, the tune was developed by the singer as an interpretation of glawn poems and accompanied primarily by the khene, a free reed mouth organ, but the modern form is most often composed and uses electrified instruments. Contemporary forms of the music are also characterised by quick tempi and rapid delivery, while tempi tend to be slower in traditional forms and in some Lao genres. Some consistent characteristics include strong rhythmic accompaniment, vocal leaps, and a conversational style of singing that can be compared to American rap.

Typically featuring a theme of unrequited love, mor lam also reflects the difficulties of life in rural Isan and Laos, leavened with wry humour. In its heartland, performances are an essential part of festivals and ceremonies, while the music has gained a profile outside its native regions thanks to the spread of migrant workers, for whom it remains an important cultural link with home. –

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